MLB.com D-backs beat writer Steve Gilbert participated in a live web chat with fans on Tuesday. During the chat, he answered many questions, including the status of shortstop Stephen Drew as he recovers from last season's injury, how 2011 first-round Draft pick Trevor Bauer has looked in Spring Training and who will win the final spot in the starting rotation.
Steve Gilbert: Welcome, everyone. Thanks for taking the time to stop by on this Tuesday morning. Let's get right to the questions.
AZsports73: How close to being ready is Stephen Drew? Seventy-five percent? Will he be in the dugout on Opening Day?
Steve Gilbert: Tough to put a percentage on it, but so far he's only taken grounders and hit. He has yet to run full out or run the bases, much less get into a game. I don't think there's any question he's going to be on the disabled list come Opening Day.
As far as when he'll return after that, we'll have to wait and see, but I think April is optimistic. That's pure speculation, but just judging by the severity of the injury and the progress he's made so far.
thejman27: I'm disappointed that the D-backs have all but ruled out Miguel Montero returning next year. There has to be a way we keep him, right?
Steve Gilbert: I don't think they've ruled out his return for next year at this point. The two sides simply decided that it would not be a good idea to negotiate during the season. Given how highly they value Montero, I'm sure the D-backs will try and re-sign him in November. That being said, the recent deal signed by Yadier Molina makes it unlikely the D-backs could afford Montero.
Losing him would be a blow to the organization, though, as it does not have someone ready to step in for him at this point.
mlbhubbs: Steve, what does [manager Kirk Gibson] think of Trevor Bauer?
Steve Gilbert: I think it's fair to say that everyone in the organization thinks highly of what Bauer can do on the mound, Gibson included. I think if you see any hesitation in Gibson's public comments about Bauer, it is simply because he is very sensitive to the expectations that can be placed on a player at a young age. Keep in mind, Gibson was labeled the next Mickey Mantle by his manager Sparky Anderson, and that was a difficult thing for him to deal with.
buckwild55: Who is the front-runner for the fifth spot in the rotation?
Steve Gilbert: Gibson said the other day that if he's healthy, Josh Collmenter will be his guy for that spot. Collmenter has not looked sharp so far this spring, but he earned a lot of leeway from Gibson by the way he pitched last year, so it looks like his spot to open the season.
1califan: What would you say the mood in the clubhouse is after a dismal spring so far?
Steve Gilbert: The mood is good despite the won-loss record. I think everyone remembers last spring, when they were 12-25 and then went on to win the National League West division. It was a good reminder that Spring Training results don't translate to the regular season. That said, they certainly would like to play better. They've been putting in a lot of extra fundamental work on the back fields each morning like they did last year, and that has a tendency to leave them a little tired come game time.
Worth noting, though, that Gibson is most tense when everyone else feels good, so it was not surprising to see his comments the other day about how they needed to play better the rest of the month. The last thing he wants is complacency.
tiago1801: The Diamondbacks have some issues in their pitching depth. However, they brought [Trevor] Cahill who fell in second half and Collmenter too. Could both pitchers step up in a batters' advantage field?
Steve Gilbert: Not sure I would agree that they have some issues with the pitching depth. Any time you're looking at Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, Charles Brewer, Wade Miley and Barry Enright not making the Opening Day roster, you have to feel good about your depth. But to your point about Cahill, he has been working lately on some mechanical adjustments and has not been that sharp so far. They expect big things from him, though, and that's why they gave up Jarrod Parker for him.
buckwild55: With Stephen Drew out, who gets most the reps at shortstop?
Steve Gilbert: Much like the second half of last year when Drew was out, I think Willie Bloomquist will get the majority of the starts, with John McDonald also seeing time.
MatthewHLeach: What is the best concession stand at Chase Field? Are you a Fatburger guy?
Steve Gilbert Meatball sandwich from Hungry Hill for me, (MLB.com columnist) Matthew (Leach).
jim2009: What are the top one to three highlights of Spring Training this year for the D-backs?
Steve Gilbert: The first thing I thought of when I saw this question was the titanic home run that young Jonathan Griffin hit over the batter's eye in center last Wednesday night. Obviously Bauer's performance so far (his pregame long-toss sessions are a must see) as well as how Chris Young has looked at the plate after some mechanical adjustments.
One other thing, Brett Lorin a Rule 5 Draft pick, has thrown five shutout innings, but has drawn little attention this spring. That jumps out, and the D-backs may look to make a deal to keep him.
thejman27: Spring Training is almost over and I'm just as confused at the [Jason] Kubel signing as I was before spring. You?
Steve Gilbert: Like everyone else, the Kubel signing caught me off guard. Certainly wasn't expecting them to add an outfielder. He's looked better at the plate of late, and having Parra coming off the bench is a pretty nice luxury. Also, it makes me wonder if there could still be a deal in the works at some point. Whether that's Parra or someone else, it's certainly worth keeping an eye on. Watching Parra make two diving catches in left Monday, I'm sure didn't help with your confusion.
1califan: How would you say that the new additions to the roster are fitting in with the D-backs?
Steve Gilbert: Seems to be good so far. It's a very easy clubhouse for people to fit in, so that's not a surprise. Both Kubel and Cahill are very quiet individuals, but teammates seem to be taking to them just fine.
buckwild55: You mentioned Chris Young and his mechanical adjustments. What has he changed?
Steve Gilbert: He's raised his hands a little, which he hopes will help him stay on top of the ball a little better.
anton77: Will D-backs win the National League West this year?
Steve Gilbert: I think you'd have better luck picking lottery numbers than to try and figure out the NL West each year. I mean seriously, who had the D-backs winning the division last year? Especially after the way they played during the spring. With that in mind, it certainly looks like the D-backs should be the favorites, given the fact that they won it last year and improved the roster during the offseason. I think the Giants -- provided their offense is improved -- could give them a real battle. Not sure what to make of the Dodgers and Rockies just yet, and I think the Padres are probably going to finish at the bottom.
jim2009: While you've got the crystal ball out ... will they win the World Series? Hope so.
Steve Gilbert: Well, as the Cardinals showed last year and the Giants the year before, if you get hot at the right time, you can win the World Series. Not sure anyone had the Giants or Cardinals winning the World Series when the playoffs began each of the past two seasons.
thejman27: Collmenter is scaring me lately. If he exits the rotation, does he go to bullpen or to Triple-A? He seems like a better fit in the bullpen.
Steve Gilbert: Again, I think they are going to give him every shot at the rotation in early April. A lot of people -- me included -- have doubted Collmenter at one time, or another. Last year after that terrific start to his big league career, he hit a little skid and a lot of us were concerned that the league figured him out. Then there was the theory that when teams saw that funky motion a second time he would struggle. So he went on to dominate the Brewers three times, including once in the playoffs.
Tough to not give him the benefit of the doubt after all that.
chris1798: Do you know if Drew will play in a game before Spring Training is over?
Steve Gilbert: They certainly hope that he will, but time is running short and I'm not sure that's going to happen. They are going to be very cautious with him to avoid a setback.
1califan: Any major differences between this spring and last spring?
Steve Gilbert: I think the lack of competition for spots this year is a major difference. Last year it seemed like there was a lot up for grabs -- first base, left field, third base, spots in the bullpen, back end of the rotation -- and this year you could pretty much pick the 25 guys before the first full-squad workout. I think that is something that is a little unsettling for someone like Gibson, who loves to see people competing.
One of the ways they've gotten around that is turning it into a competition among the young players to see who is going to make the biggest impression and therefore get the first callup during the season.
AZsports73: How do you see the playing time split between Parra and Kubel?
Steve Gilbert: I think you'll see Kubel get the majority of the playing time. Parra will get some starts there and some in center when they give Chris Young a day off and in right on the rare days that Justin Upton is not in the lineup. Interested to see how they get Parra all the at-bats they say he's going to get.
1califan: What would you say is the best part of Salt River Fields?
Steve Gilbert: That it's not in Tucson.
Kidding, kidding, kidding, please no emails from those of you in Tucson. Seriously, it's hard to find things not to like about Salt River Fields. I've never spent a game in the stands, but judging by all the sellouts, it must be awesome. The facility for the players is unmatched in baseball and really allows them to get extra work in. Plus the fact that the organization can use it year-round is a huge plus. It's become a selling point for free agents, without a doubt.
jasonj99: Has Mike Zagurski earned a spot on the roster based on his spring? He's out of options, so they could send Joe Paterson to Triple-A. Or will they reward Paterson's 2011 and risk losing Zagurski?
Steve Gilbert: Thanks for mentioning Zagurski, I totally should have listed him among the guys who have made a good impression this spring. Going to be hard to see them getting rid of Paterson or Craig Breslow at this point. Problem is Zagurski is out of options, so the chances of him clearing waivers is not good. Afraid they might lose him. If he keeps pitching well this spring, some organization will no doubt take a chance on him.
thejman27: Why do you and [Arizona Republic beat writer] Nick Piecoro clock the anthems?
Steve Gilbert: I forget who first mentioned it to us last year, but someone told us that a bench coach clocked them to see how much time he spent over the course of the year listening to the anthem. We decided to do it this year to see for ourselves. It's been amazing the amount of feedback we've gotten from people wanting to know the anthem times. Just another way to have some fun during a long season.
chris1798: Do you know if they have asked Bauer to change anything about his pregame routine besides him allowed to wear headphones?
Steve Gilbert: That's been it so far. They even let him do his long toss pregame when he wasn't starting.
1califan: What do you think the D-backs need to improve on in order to repeat the success of last year?
Steve Gilbert: If you mean do better than last year, would say their situational hitting, getting guys in from third with less than two outs, etc.
thejman27: Collin Cowgill is raking this spring and he was an afterthought in trade. What's his ceiling?
Steve Gilbert: Depends on who you ask. There are some that feel his ceiling is a fourth outfielder. Others think he could be an everyday guy. Certainly someone Gibson liked for the way he approached the game.
buckwild55: Of those pitchers mentioned above, who ends up in the Triple-A Reno rotation?
Steve Gilbert: Will be interesting to see if they put some of their pitchers in Reno or if they put Bauer, Skaggs, etc., back at Double-A Mobile. The Pacific Coast League is not known to be friendly to pitchers, so they might go the Mobile route.
1califan: How has [Takashi] Saito fit in with the clubhouse and media?
Steve Gilbert: Great, from what I can see. He has a very good sense of humor, so he will fit in down in that bullpen for sure.
Steve Gilbert: Let me grab one or two more questions before I head back to work ...
chris1798: Should I be worried about the way Trevor Cahill has pitched thus far in Spring Training?
Steve Gilbert: Not yet, Chris. Supposedly he's working on some mechanical things, so I don't think you've seen him at his best yet. I think you always have to give the benefit of the doubt during the spring to guys who have big league track records.
DBacks13: What do you think about our team not going after any BIG league names? A team of a lot of guys not many people know about. Can we win a championship without a big name?
Steve Gilbert: I don't know, Cahill and Kubel were pretty big additions this year. Not sure you need to have big names to win, as they proved last year. I think the additions they did make strengthened them, which is the important part.
1califan: Besides the [J.J.] Putz desk joke, any other funny stories you haven't told us?
Steve Gilbert: One that we have to somehow get on video is Ian Kennedy's impersonation of Piecoro. It is priceless.
Steve Gilbert: Thanks again, everyone, for all the great questions. Hope we can do this again soon!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.